NYACK, N.Y. – Today, the Republican Party released its 2012 platform, which included a provision entitled “America’s Future in Space: Continuing This Quest.” The non-partisan Space Frontier Foundation issued the following statement in response:
NASA seems to be one Big Government program many Republicans love. The GOP platform criticizes the federal government as “bloated, antiquated and unresponsive to taxpayers” but has nothing but hackneyed praise for NASA, and doesn’t even mention the increasing role of the private sector. The authors of this platform must imagine they still live in the Cold War of the 1960s, when only governments launched payloads and people into space.
The platform committee declares it “isn’t enough to merely downsize government, having a smaller version of the same failed systems,” that we need to “do things in a dramatically different way”—yet says nothing about the need to reform NASA or to streamline regulation of the emerging NewSpace sector. Republicans call themselves the Great Opportunity Party. Yet their Platform presumes “space” is a (government) program, instead of a frontier to be opened to the American people–the greatest “opportunity” since the West was settled.
In the last eight years, the private space industry has taken off—literally. Companies like SpaceX and Sierra Nevada are vying to take crew and cargo to the International Space Station. Others are testing vehicles for suborbital space tourism, or planning orbiting space facilities and asteroid mining. Many inside NASA recognize that the agency should be encouraging these NewSpace companies by buying their services, rather than competing with them, so NASA can focus on true exploration–like Lewis and Clark. NASA needs the kind of overhaul Gov. Romney has brought to other dysfunctional organizations if it is to pass his test for all government programs: is it worth borrowing money from China to pay for it? Only when NASA ceases to be a white-collar jobs program and starts nurturing entrepreneurs in new industries will the answer be yes.
The Space Frontier Foundation is a non-profit, non-partisan 501(c)(3) citizen’s advocacy group founded in 1988 and dedicated to opening the Space Frontier to human settlement as rapidly as possible.
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